President Obama’s “Senior” Moment?

Aug 11, 2009 5:16pm

Rachel Martin and Jake Tapper report:


President Obama today suggested that the health care reform legislation for which he’s pushing has been endorsed by the American Association of Retired Person.


“We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors,” the president said.


At another point he said: “Well, first of all, another myth that we’ve been hearing about is this notion that somehow we’re going to be cutting your Medicare benefits.  We are not.  AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, okay?”


The problem?


The AARP hasn’t endorsed any plan yet.


The country’s largest advocacy group for Americans over 50 issued a statement after the event saying, “While the President was correct that AARP will not endorse a health care reform bill that would reduce Medicare benefits, indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate.”



Today’s town hall meeting was quite tame compared to what Democratic members of Congress have been facing in recent weeks.


While hundreds of citizens outside the president’s Portsmouth, NH, town hall were very upset about his health care reform push – they carried signs, they chanted — inside, it was an altogether different scene.


The President said several times that he wanted to field questions from opponents with real concerns and questions about reform.


After a bunch of rather genial questions, the President said he wanted to call on “somebody here who has a concern about health care that has not been raised, or is skeptical and suspicious and wants to make sure that — because I don’t want people thinking I just have a bunch of plants in here.”


Perhaps the most provocative question came from a woman who brought up concerns about medical panels that would “guide care” according to the administration, the same panels that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin called Obama’s “death panels” which, she speculated, would determine who gets care and who doesn’t.


But halfway through her question, the woman, obviously flummoxed, paused. The president said something to the effect of “you’re doing fine.”


Then the woman turned to the crowd and said coyly, “He winked at me.” 


And that was from one of the only “skeptics” in the room.


The White House said time and again that they weren’t pre-screening audience members. Most people we talked to got  their tickets by registering with a White House lottery.


-Rachel Martin reported from Portsmouth, NH, and Jake Tapper reported from the White House

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